TULSA - While the debate over whether fracking - or more specifically, the injection wells associated with it - causes earthquakes continues to rage, the US Geological Survey says the risk of a major quake has definitely increased in central and north central Oklahoma.
Robert Williams with the USGS says they do believe the wells have contributed to the massive increase in the number of quakes in Oklahoma.
"In general, we think that overall, the increase in oil and gas activity and the extraction and injection of fluids is contributing to the cause of the earthquakes," he told KRMG.
He says when they see a "swarm" of smaller quakes, history indicates a heightened possibility of a larger, damaging quake.
But that's only a general rule, and they've not corrolated that to a swarm of quakes believed to have been caused by human activity.
Still, he says, better safe than sorry.
"This rate of smaller earthquakes has increased so dramatically over the last few years, that we're concerned about a larger one," he said. "Oklahomans who are prepared for natural disaster of many kinds should include some preparation for earthquakes."
These safety ideas are from the FEMA website ready.gov:
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake.
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
- Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
- Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
- Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
- Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
- Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.